: Dwiki Dharmawan: Pasar Klewer

January 19, 2017 : Dwiki Dharmawan: Pasar Klewer

Another day, another two- disc set. Or so it seems. Fortunately, one does not have to wade through Dwiki Dharmawan’s Pasar Klewer. Despite some odd choices in track sequence one may even wonder …”is that all?” after the second disc has finished its spin. Dharmawan is an Indonesian jazz pianist who, like so many of his countrymen, has found a rich vein of inspiration in the folk and ethnic musics of his native land. It’s worth noting that Dharmawan is a highly regarded jazz pianist, composer, arranger and peace activist who’s been on the scene for over thirty years. Pasar Klewer is the follow- up to Dharmawan’s first album to be issued in North America, So Far, So Close (MoonJune Records, 2015). Backed by the MoonJune Records house rhythm section of bassist Yaron Stavi and ace drummer Asaf Sirkis, Dharmawan is free to wander all over the modern jazz stylistic map. And the choices here aren’t limited to modern jazz, as evidenced by Dharmawan’s skillful cover of “Forest” by ex-Soft Machine drummer / vocalist Robert Wyatt. He’s joined by reedman Gilad Atzmon and guitarists Mark Wingfield and Nicholas Meier on about half of the set’s eleven tracks. Other tracks feature a full Gamelan orchestra and Indonesian vocalist / multi- instrumentalist Aris Daryono.

While So Far, So Close had a strong jazz-rock fusion orientation—featuring the leader on Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes, and Hammond B-3- -the keyboard component on Pesar Klewer is 100% acoustic piano. Yet, it’s no less a musical fusion than its predecessor. This is best exemplified on “Pasar Klewer” and “Tjampuhan” on CD 1, and on “Lir Illir” on CD 2, where Dharmawan addresses the relationships between Indonesian music and modern jazz in unexpected and startlingly creative ways. On the title track, a blistering fusion jam is subverted by Daryono’s vocals, wailing rebab (a 3- stringed violin), and sparkling, bell-like Gamelan percussion. The first half of “Tjampuhan” intercuts the Gamelan orchestra with a series of amazingly frenetic piano trio passages before transitioning to a balladic pace for Atzmon’s beautifully emotive soprano saxophone improvisation. The first several minutes of “Lir Illir” are absolutely otherworldly, with Peni Candrarini’s spooky multi- tracked vocals and Daryono’s gauzy rebab filling the spaces in between Dharmawan’s somber piano chords while the Gamelan orchestra lurks in the background. Somehow this transitions to an extended, and quite muscular, up-tempo jazz piano trio workout. “Bubuy Bulan,” a folk ballad popularized by pop singers Nina Kirana and Diah Iskandar in the 1960s, gets a lovely rhapsodic interpretation with Atzmon’s richly evocative clarinet front and center. Atzmon’s wailing klezmer- style clarinet is also quite effective on Dharmawan’s Middle Eastern-flavored “Spirit of Peace”.